Way back when I was a toddler in Singapore we would spend our most of our family time at the beach. We would hop in the car, drive over to East Coast Park, meet friends, play in the sand, swim, my father would windsurf, we would have a picknick lunch/dinner and go home again.
"When it was just you, we never went to the beach", said my mother. "But once you have two or three little ones" - my parents would end up having four children - "it's just so much easier to take them to the beach. Sand and water, you entertained yourselves for hours."
When I was a toddler, Sentosa was already known by its current name, but it wasn't much of a destination. For us, it was always East Coast Park. I distinctly remember the slides at The Big Splash - or maybe the slides at Mitsukoshi Garden? They were FAN-TAS-TIC. Every indoor 'subtropical swim paradise' has been a letdown ever since.
But nowadays, it's all about Sentosa, not least because of all the entertainment around the island (Universal Studios, the cable car, a casino, a golf course, and the list goes on). But our family doesn't go to any of those 'destinations'. We always end up at one of three spots: Coastes on Siloso Beach, the food court at Palawan Beach or somewhere in the vicinity of Tanjong Beach Club.
This time we decided to go the full expat experience and actually do brunch at Tanjong Beach Club. This was definitely not on the cards when I was young - we brought our own food and did picknicks. Sand is good for digestion, as I've often been told. There was no sand in the brunch at Tanjong Beach Club, and it is nice to be able to strap the children down in high chairs for a bit of peace (but no quiet). It is, however, also costly.
I remember I was never allowed to swim without a T-shirt, because of the sun and the danger of burning. That certainly has become more high tech - we now know that those T-shirts didn't really make a difference. Luckily, sunscreen has also become more high tech, so my children are no longer slathered in sticky white stuff, which magically attracts most of the beach and brings it home. (Although, I am beginning to suspect it is the children that magically attract the beach and bring it home.)
Toddler J. was not allowed to swim today, because he has bronchitis - another thing that we used to have a lot of in the eighties, and something which is still very much around today. He ran after all available dogs, only to pedal instantly backwards if they showed any reciprocal interest. Toddler E. did swim, or rather, 'deinde', floated on the slow rolling waves, with me. Man Tamtam is more of a cycling hero than a surfer, and showed off his genius irrigation skills.
"It's funny", I had remarked to Man Tamtam earlier. "Last year we hardly went to Sentosa in at all, but lately we've been going quite a lot." He just grunted, caught up in building intricate canal systems involving plastic cups and directing his little runners to get buckets of seawater to fill his waterways.
Before we went home, we had a quick clean-up at the lovely Sentosa public showers, which might have been toddler J.'s favourite bit of the whole outing, especially as he got to share his shower with an enthusiastic puppy.
Some history has no need of change.